NEWSLETTERS 2007

December 2007
November 2007
September 2007
August 2007
June 2007
May 2007
March 2007

 

December 2007

Hi Again

Just a quick word from me as I am handing over this letter to Trevor as my guest writer this month. We have been busy getting Giselle ready for next year, the principals are now coming to grips with the style and drama of the piece and we caste the first production this week in Stevenage. All exciting and nerve wracking stuff! We also welcome a new Ballerina to out team Alex Newton who will dancing the Queen of the Wilis and is currently dancing in William Tuckett’s “Pinocchio” at the ROH. A few messages. Robert Howse who started at the Northern School of Ballet will be appearing in their production of “The Nutcracker” one of only two first year students to be picked, Hattie Archer got 95% for her RAD grade 8 and Sarah Hoar started at Central School of Ballet  in September. Congratulations to all. Well that's it from me. Have a good Xmas and new year and keep working hard.

Dominic

Hi, for those of you who didn’t do Coppélia in Preston, Worthing and High Wycombe this year, my name is Trevor and I played the part of Dr Coppelius. Dominic has asked me do a quick article about Coppélia and a few thoughts about playing Dr Coppelius, but first an extremely quick C.V.

 I  trained at the Arts Education School, leaving there I spent ten years as a soloist with London Festival Ballet, now renamed English National Ballet. Following that I worked in musicals. Having always been interested in choreography, I then moved into providing the movement/choreography in plays, operas and musicals. I also coach actors in movement and dance.

Now back to Coppélia.

I was first introduced to Coppélia at the age of about six or seven, whilst at primary school. Back then BBC radio used to broadcast a programme called Time and Tune, and part of it included the music of Coppélia, by Leo Delibes, or as I recently heard a member of the stage crew say

“I know who wrote the music for Coppélia; you don’t think I know who wrote it, but I do. It were Leroy Dela Bees”.

Of course little did I realise how often that music was going to keep reappearing throughout my life.

My next encounter with the piece was as a student watching performances at the London Coliseum by London Festival Ballet; a company that I was later to join, and yes, I do remember Mss Lewis performing Lead Mazurka in Act One. And she was absolutely lovely (I know who pays my wages). The first time that I actually performed in the ballet was in my final year at Arts, when it was used as the end of year graduation show This version was based on an old Royal Ballet production, and although I ended up playing the part of Franz in the performance, in  rehearsals we used to change parts just for fun, and I think this is where I started to pick up additional bits of mime that previous generations of dancers have used when playing Dr Coppelius, and which I use now.

From Arts Ed into English National Ballet and Jack Carter’s production of Coppélia  When he had first mounted his version, Jack had spent many hours researching in the archives of the Paris Opera, where Coppélia had its premier in 1870, and had used many of the original floor patterns in his choreography, and had also used a lot of the original Act Two mime scenes

Of course, I wasn’t cast in such important parts as when I had performed it as a student. It was back to being “Third Peasant from the Left” in Act One and “Non-dancing Peasant standing at the Back” in Act Three. However, over the years, I climbed up the ladder, firstly dancing “Betrothal and Work Hours” and then many, many performances of “Father Time”; a madcap character in long Greek robes and bald wig.

I never did get cast again as Franz, but I did get cast as Dr Coppelius in Jack Carter’s production.

Rehearsals with Jack were always fun. An extremely musical choreographer, he’d had his own music performed at the Royal Festival Hall, and it wasn’t unknown for him to throw the rehearsal pianist off the piano saying “ Not like that. This is how Delibes composed it”, and playing it himself.

I’d know for some time that I’d been cast as Dr Coppelius, and had been watching from the wings for months, so I knew it fairly well by the time I had my first rehearsal with Jack. Helpful and interesting as he was, it wasn’t until we retired to the coffee bar after the rehearsal, that the real gems started to come out. “Why do you turn to the left not the right?” He’d ask. “Why do you do this on that piece of music?  How do you make the audience think that? Is Dr Coppelius friendly with the Burgomaster? Does he know Swanilda before the ballet starts? Why does he carry a walking stick? Has he got a bad knee? Has he got gout, or  an arthritic hip? In which case, which one?” The list went on for hours; some of it relevant, some things not so important, and maybe some discarded completely, but all building up the background character of the person.

I did my first performance at the London Coliseum and I don’t think I‘ve been so nervous since.

Yes I have.

First morning of rehearsals for a musical based on the Charles Dickens story Great Expectations, in which I was doing the choreography. I felt so ill I nearly took a taxi home.

But back to Coppélia.

I don’t know who choreographed the next production in which I performed the part of Dr C, but I know it was the third version that I’d learnt. The difficult thing I find about learning a new version of one of the classics, is that although they are all based on the same story and of course the same music, a lot of the mime/choreography is slightly different, not very different, but slightly different. The mime scenes that are completely new are much easier to learn; it’s the bits that are, for example, three musical counts later than the last time you did it, or it’s the right foot, not the left foot, that are more tricky to remember. I don’t actually remember much about this production, except that the whole cast got extremely tired, Long coach trips from one theatre to the next  and very little sleep. However  I do remember one dreadful night during Act Two, when Swanilda and I decided, for some reason, that we would both forget what came next at exactly the same time. We looked at each other blankly for maybe a second or two, then I decided that I had better do something, so I mimed. I don’t know what I was saying, I just kept miming until one of us eventually remembered what we were supposed to be doing. If anyone in the audience was familiar with ballet mime, the conversation probably went along these lines.

“You doll that I make. I’m the Swan Queen Oddette, and I don’t love you because you’ve got broken legs. But it doesn’t matter, let’s go and have a drink anyway, and then you can do a dance.”

I thought I’d got away with it until I heard a stifled snort behind me. I turned round to see one of the mechanical dolls; motionless, but with tears of laughter rolling down her cheeks.

Version four was by Terry Etheridge; another ex-London Festival Ballet dancer. This time, like the EYB production, there were  two girls alternating the part of Swanilda. Caroline, a stylish English dancer and a whizz,-bang-flash  Japanese dancer, whose party piece during the overture was to do nine or ten pirouettes on point. Not nine or ten single pirouettes but a continuous turn of nine or ten, and she did it on the music, and not only once either; she did it  fairly regularly. I hate a show off don’t you?

Now we’re at January 2007, and

The phone rang,

“Hello.”

“Hello” I replied, thinking ‘I know that voice.’

“It’s Janet Lewis here. Have you ever played the part of Dr Coppelius?

And so we were off into version number five

Two days later a rehearsal schedule and a video of EYB production arrived on my front door mat, and a few weeks later I  met the EYB team for the first time.

As this was the fifth production I’d learnt, I’d been a little worried about my ability to take in yet another version, so before the first day of rehearsal I did my homework fairly well by watching the video of EYB’s  Nottingham show over and over again. Unfortunately the show had changed subtly since it was recorded, so I started to learn version number six. And so far I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. However, I should mention the curtain calls in High Wycombe. Julianne, the Swanilda that night, had just received a huge bouquet containing many different type of flowers, among them half a dozen gladioli. We all walked forward, I bowed, Julianne graciously curtsied and managed to stick a gladioli stem up my nose. I wasn’t too happy about it, but it did make Elle, the Coppelia doll, laugh quite a lot.

I have to admit I‘m still occasionally having slight problems remembering which version I’m doing. Most nights I try to find a dark corner somewhere back stage before the show starts where I can run through things silently, which usually involves a lot of arm waving and muttering, And still there’s one annoying place in Act Two, where it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve rehearsed it, I feel a wave of panic and confusion coming over me. I start thinking “I know it’s the right arm that points on count three, or was it count four, no it’s count three, but it’s the left arm, no that was version number two from ten years ago.”, by which time I’m totally confused. Fortunately both Casper and Matt both know where this bit is, and if I’m staring at either of them like a rabbit caught a cars headlights, I usually get a whispered prompt.

Now a few helpful hints for any mime scene you might get to do in the future:

1 Make it clear. Fairly obvious I would have thought, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t. Remember to consider the size of the theatre. A raised eyebrow will be seen in a theatre seating three hundred, but not from the back of a theatre seating a thousand .

2 Do it on the music. Another obvious one, but you’d be surprised…. Also really listen to the music. Most narrative ballets, for example Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Coppélia had music composed in collaboration with the choreographer. The composer knew what was going to happen on stage and wrote music to suit. In other words, and to put it at it’s simplest, don’t try to convey sadness when the music is joyful, and don’t try to be funny when the music is dramatic. To sum up, listen to the music and follow it, and it will do half the work for you.

3 Does it make sense? This is the difficult one.  Imagine a foreign film on the television but without subtitles. Now imagine two actors performing a very simple scene,

Woman                        “Do you love me?”

Man                        “Yes”

Now you might not understand the words they are using, but if the actors are any good, you should have a pretty good idea what is happening  When the big classic ballets were first produced, audiences knew what all the gestures meant, and could easily follow what the performers were telling them. Audiences today don’t know what these gestures mean, so you have to be really careful. “I love you” is fairly straight forward to mime, but with some things you really have to give the audience all the help you can, so they understand what you are telling them. Unfortunately some things are almost impossible to make clear for a modern audience, so you just have to do your best.

4 If you are doing a scene with another person. React to what they are saying to you. Don’t just stand there waiting for your turn. This doesn’t mean waving your arms about frantically so everybody is watching you and not your partner.

5 Continually assess what you are doing. This applies to the dancing as well. Theatre is a live art. It’s not like film or television, which captures a moment of time and holds it. Theatre changes all the time. The audience changes every night and will react differently. If you are in the same show for weeks, or months or even years, things will change slowly. Sometimes its all right to let them change. It might be an improvement, but sometimes the changes make it worse. What I’m trying to say is, continually try to improve things. Just because something worked last week doesn’t mean it can’t be thought through again and made better.

And finally, a big hello to Alice, Raffaella and Elle, who were the Coppélia dolls in Preston, Worthing and High Wycombe.

Look forward to meeting some of you in 2008

Best Wishes

Trevor


November 2007

Hi Again,

Another year of performances over! And what a way to end. Those of you who read this letter regularly will know that the Kings theatre in Southsea is a bit of a special venue for EYB and this visit was no exception. It started with the audition which was attended by twice as many dancers than our 1st one 4 years ago, the standard was very high and we had a record number of boys auditioning. For the first time in our history we had 5 senior boys of a similar standard which added a whole new dimension to the group dances and I had a lot of fun teaching them how to partner. As you may know the Theatre was saved from closure 4 years ago and money has been invested to improve the building. The front of house has come on a long way, the other side of the curtain has a bit of catching up to do though. What made this visit a little more special was one of those coincidences you can never plan for. The Kings Theatre was celebrating its 100 anniversary this year AND Julianne’s Grandmother (who is local to the area) reached her 100th year during our performances! She and at least 50 family members and friends came to see Julianne dance Aurora on the Saturday before having the birthday party. It was a very special performance for Julianne and to say she was a tad nervous would be an understatement! But she did her Grandmother proud as we all expect of her and it will be a fond memory for her and her family.

We also had a nice little bonus performance a week later. As we had won the TMA/Stage award last year we were invited to provide some of the entertainment for this years ceremony and we were asked to come up with 5 minutes that represented what we are all about that could be danced to the live 5 piece band playing that night! Not as easy as it sounds as people don’t always realise that we don’t have all of you at our beck and call all of the time. Miss Lewis decided to do 3 dances from the Nutcracker using some of the dancers from the Dunstable production as they were nearest to London. Even that wasn’t as easy as it sounds. In the end Esme Bacalla-Hayes andIsabel O'Neill danced a version of the Doll’s and Children's dances from the party scene, Shannen Redmond, Natalie Francis, Hannah Griffiths, Jessica Arnold, Daniel Greenway and Sam Hindmarsh danced the Spanish dance from Act 2 and Emma danced the Sugar Plum Fairy variation with Kasper being the master of ceremonies as Drosselmeyer all to a rather Jazzy arrangement by the house band! I have to say they did you all proud, Miss Lewis was very impressed with all involved and many people commented that it was the highlight of the evening and the organiser said that it added a touch of class to the evening, so well done to all.

This year maybe over but as usual next year has started for us, we have been rehearsing the principals this week, starting to get to grips with the choreography for our new production of Giselle. Dancers relish the chance to work on new roles and they were all pretty red in the face by the time we finished today. Giselle is a new challenge for EYB, a lot of work goes into the planning with the main challenge being marrying the traditional to what is expected of an EYB production. I think we have it pretty much nailed now. The next two weeks will see more rehearsals and our first two auditions for next year, after that the principals will be busy in various other endeavours, Julianne and Matthew will be on tour with the Strauss Gala again, Emma will dancing Juliet in a new production of Romeo & Juliet in Malta, Oliver will be busy in France, Kasper busy teaching at the Urdang, I’m working on a new piece of weirdness for the Anglian Ballet Company and Miss Lewis and Bridget will be getting next year sorted out. So, no rest for the wicked really.

At the certificate ceremony in Southsea commendations went to the Friends for their group work, the 5 senior boys for their improved partnering and turns, Claire Swinbourne (Lady Beauty/Solo Jewel) for her use of arms, Paige Elson (Relative/Solo Jewel) for hard work and good understudying, Timothy Raison (Charm/Hop O My Thumb) for improvement with style, Jazzmin Coles (Charm/Kitten) for hard work and consistency, Caroline Herszenhorn (Lilac/Russian) for her smile, Annabel Devine (Honesty/Cryonite) for her technique and Donna Jackson (Relative/Cinderella) for her use of face and improvement. I would also like to add the Guests were one of the nicest groups I have worked with, a pleasure to teach.

The Junior Prize went to Bethany Relf (Lady Songbird/White Cat) and Ashley Merrikin (Lord Songbird/Puss in Boots) and the senior Prize went to Rebecca Herszenhorn (Nurse) and Luke Jackson (Guest).

I have had messages from Andrew Dower who was given a place at Central School of Ballet and started the week after he finished with us in Southsea Katherine Hamilton who got 95% in her Grade 7 RAD, Emily Starling who got Merit for her RAD Advance 1, Alfie Jago who will be appearing in the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, EmilyWestgarth who is a mouse in Northern Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, Amber Thompson who got an A for her GCSE in Dance after only 8 months, will be performing in Dick Whittington at the Nottingham playhouse and in New English Contemporary Ballet's production of (you’ve guessed it) The Nutcracker. Finally, Henry Perkins who danced with us in Woking in 2000 was featured in the BBC’s Imagine series in a film about his first year at the Bolshoi School in Russia. He is only the 2nd English student to go there and it was the 1st time a British camera crew was allowed to film there! Congratulations to all!

Well that's it from me, I may get out a guest letter before the end of the year - both Trevor and Emma are working on pieces - so until then

Keep working hard

Dominic


September 2007

Hi Again

Just a short letter this month as I’m about to go on holiday (Whale watching in Monterey Bay) and my computer is going into hospital so I need to get this out quickly as I don’t know which of us is going to give out first! Dunstable was an interesting project, it is always a gamble accepting a booking before a theatre has been built! Fortunately it was finished on time but was having the usual teething problems new buildings have (nobody sure where everything is or how it works?!?). On the whole they have done a good job (the things that are done well are excellent, the things done badly makes you wonder if they ever consulted anyone who works or visits a theatre...) and it is a nice space to dance in and there is even decent parking!!! The two week summer course is always very intense and I am always impressed by how much the students can take in over such a short period and how well they gel together and Dunstable was no exception. Even though it was the smallest cast we have had in some time with a broad spread of technical ability the company feel was excellent, we were all impressed by the group dancing and acting. The party scene buzzed along and the lines in the Waltz of the Flowers were outstanding. The behaviour of the students was excellent and the attendance was the best all year (only one student ill!) We have already spent a week in Southsea and it should be an interesting end to the year but we all shall be taking a much needed and well earned break over the next two weeks...

At the certificate ceremony commendations went to The Snowflake as a group for their improvement , the Waltz of the Flowers  for their excellent group work and lines, Saskia Twiss (Child/Chinese) for her dramatic ability, Isabel O’Neill (Doll/Sweet) for her good use of legs and feet, Emily Hart (Child/Reed Pipe) for dancing with maximum effort throughout, Cordelia Braithwaite and Trudie Woolhead (Snow Queen Attendants) for their improved technique and finally the 3 leads Kesi Dorey (Clara), Alfie Jago (Fritz) and Daniel Greenway (Mouse King) for their dramatic interpretations and consistency. Prizes went to Kirsty Ingram (Governess/Spanish) for acting, performance quality and style and Jack Rubens (Father/Spanish/Jig) for the most improvement over all.

I have had messages from Helena Sandford who is a second year York Scholar, Emily Westgarth who is now A JA with the Northern School of Ballet and will be performing in The Nutcracker with them, Collette Wyatt who will starting at the Northern School of Ballet this term, Imogen Lyon who has been accepted on the Elmhurst pre Vocational Program, Rosie Porter who got merit in her RAD intermediate foundation, Natasha Pearson who got an A in her Dance A Level and will be going on to do Dance Studies at Roehampton University, Kesi Dorey who will be starting in Tring this term and Robert Howse who has done well in his dance and GCSE exams and will be taking up a scholarship place at the Northern School of Ballet.

Thats all for now, keep your news coming in and as always, keep working hard!

Dominic

August 2007

Hi Again

Just a short intro from me as Oliver has written a guest spot for this letter. We went straight from High Wycombe to Stoke and we are in Dunstable this week so we are all feeling a little shattered! High Wycombe and Stoke were different productions with different temperaments in the cast but one headache - absenteeism - what with exams, end of term and school shows it was very tricky getting everyone together at the same level and the understudies were working overtime! The cast in High Wycombe were nice and quiet, Stoke not so, but as one student pointed out “not as bad as Preston”. Unfortunately the boys in Stoke let themselves down back stage. As a summary High Wycombe had some outstanding group work (best Czardas ever) and Stoke had some outstanding individual work and both theatres were nice and big with lots of room on stage and back. Well enough from me, I have to get the timetable done for Dunstable, over to Oli...

My Right Knee

I would like to start off by thanking everyone for their kind words and wishes about my knee. As a sequel to Julianne’s “My Left Foot”, and to let you know the whole story to date, I thought I would write and tell you all about “My Right Knee”. Unfortunately, as with all physically active jobs, one of the risks of our profession are injuries. They nearly always occur at times when we are working our hardest (or possibly overworking), and are never welcome. This is what happened to me.

The problems with my knee started last October (2006), as a small pain of the tendon between my kneecap and shin bone (my patella tendon), one that I only felt on big jumps. This was, at the time, diagnosed as a little tendonitis- but as time wore on, and as the pain grew, I could feel that this was not going to recover quite so easily. By December, for the Nutcracker season in Toulouse, the pain was becoming unbearable. At the beginning of February I landed from a big jump, and made a small tear in my tendon. After a quick trip to A&E I learnt that the phrase “you need surgery” is just as scary a phrase in French as in English (so much for the romance of the latin languages!).

After many discussions with various doctors, I decided to takes four weeks off, have a cortazone (steroid) injection, and try to make it to the end of the season, with a view to having my surgery in April. They were a tough couple of weeks there, but I’m pleased I chose this path. Here in Toulouse we had a really great modern triple bill programme, with two ballets in the evening having a role created on me, and the third being the welcome return of a personal favourite choreographer. It was a real honour to have been chosen by the choreographers, and I loved every minute of it. When the shows ended, and I was checked in for my surgery, the difference between theatre and hospital was quite a shock!

I am sure that Julianne will agree with me in saying that the whole hospital experience is really quite surreal, and at the time stressful, followed by a huge relief. Also, I am sure Dominic will agree with me, tendons are extremely painful post surgery, and we don’t realise how much we use them until they are ruptured. Also, I am here to let you all know that hospital food is as bad in France as it is in the UK, no joke, but I can’t really complain as I was very well cared for. After the surgery I was in hospital for four days and then in the caste, on crutches for three weeks; but with lots of physio and hard work, things started to move in the right direction.

Which brings us to June, my return to the world of ballet, and the stage! But, as those who read my previous newsletter will know, nothing happens without a little drama while I’m around. I found out, just before I went into hospital, that Emma was all booked up “Swanning” around with ENB, and so we were to welcome back Maria for Yeovil’s performances of Sleeping Beauty. However, I found out at around the time I had the caste taken off, that Maria had injured her right knee also (I do like to match my partners), so we had to move on to plan C. After a few phone calls between Miss Lewis and myself, it was decided that I would bring over a girl that I dance with here in Toulouse. Enter Miss Juliana Bastos stage right.

Juliana and I have been dancing together for about four years over here in Toulouse, but due to the technical difficulty of Sleeping Beauty, it was not going to be easy to get it together in the limited time we had. But of course we made it, and I thought that Juliana’s debut with EYB was a great success, as she gave some very nice performances. I hobbled through them realising that I still had a fair way to go on the road to recovery, but also with the confidence that I made it through one of the hardest classical ballets, so the only way is up!

I am currently writing this newsletter from my computer in Toulouse, as I am back here to dance our small summer season, which consists of a couple of open air

performances (the pleasure of dancing in the summer heat). I am looking forward to making my return to EYB in Stoke, and finding my Canadian Sleeping Beauty, I will then be participating in the condensed summer period with Nutcracker in Dunstable; and just yesterday I confirmed with Miss Lewis that my director here in France has given me the time off to do the Southsea shows as well. This was important to me because it was my very first venue with EYB a little over two years ago, so it’s a definite welcome return, although it’s funny to think how the time has flown.

Take Care of yourselves, I hope to see you all, injury free, very soon!

Oli

At the certificate ceremony in High Wycombe commendations went to  the Czardas and Work Hours as  polished groups, Scottish Dolls- so together and focussed, Jasmine Handford (Betrothal & Scottish Doll) who worked intelligently, Verity Holloway (Morning Hour) for working hard and consistently, Rachel Sutcliffe (Little Villager) for her mime of knocking at door, Alana Pitman (Little friend) for performance quality and RosslynMcNair (Czardas) for style and panache.

Prizes went to Jenny Jones (Work Hour) for outstanding performance quality from day one, Eleanor Johnson (Coppelia Doll) for technical improvement, Richard Linnell for good performance and potential talent and Daisy Winter-Taylor (villager) for outstanding acting.

In Stoke commendations went to the Lilac and Songbird groups with special mentions for Imogen Lyon (songbird) for being alert and good use of feet and Christina Deakin and Laura Clare (Lilacs) for their improved point work. Other commendations went to Charles Brink (Photographer) for his acting and technical improvement, Jessica Simpson (Guest) for her performance quality throughout the whole project, Neve Campbell and Grace Carr (Cryonites) for their consistent good work, Joshua Humphreys for his professional approach, Abigail Blackburn (Duchess) and Laura Reid (Nurse) for their acting and performance and finally the 6 solo girls especially Katherine Hamilton for their polished performances and approach to their work. The Junior prize went to Benjamin Thomas and the Senior Prize went to Madeleine Price both who were outstanding.

I have had messages from Aimée Cheetham to say she will be going to the Rambert School in september, Genna Heron who will be going to White Lodge, Lucie Tipping  who is an Associate with Birmingham Royal Ballet and will be performing in the New English Contemporary Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker and was picked to perform at the Edinburgh Festival with them, Laura Willey who has just finished her 2nd year at the Northern Ballet School and is doing well and performing in all their shows and finally George Chantler who has just become a JA with the Royal Ballet. Congratulations to all and apologies to anyone who I haven’t had a chance to reply to their e-mails, please keep them coming!

Keep working hard

Dominic

 

June 2007

Hi Again

I cant believe the shows in Yeovil were only 2 weeks ago! Since then we have done 5 days in High Wycombe and done the casting days in Stoke and Dunstable, 3 towns, 3 different productions and 300 different dancers. No wonder were feeling a little dazed! The production in Yeovil was not without it’s own dramas. As I said in the last letter Oliver had  just had a knee operation and these were his first shows back, he coped very well but had the added drama of nasty insect bite which made a visible lump on his leg even through his costume. Maria was due to dance with us as Emma was working with ENB but she had a nasty knee injury and was unable to do the shows! Fortunately one of Oliver’s dance partners from France,  Juliana Bastos, was available(with a bit of rearranging of holidays) so she and Oli did some rehearsals together in France and then a couple of days with us and then straight onto the stage in Yeovil. Juliana produced some lovely performances and was a delight to work with, a good addition to the EYB family. As there was no time to teach Juliana the Aunt Lilac role as well as Aurora it was decided to promote on of the students into the role, Caroline Rees had done many productions with us before and as this was her last one before going onto vocational training at London Studio Centre it was felt the challenge would do her good. Caroline’s best friend Nicola Licence  was also in the show and dancing the Blue Bird pas de deux with Matthew and was the first student we have let do the complete version with the coda. I am please to report that both young women rose to the challenge and were a credit to the production. We wish them well in their further training and hope to see them enter the profession. Matthew and Oliver had a busy time as there were no older boys in the production so they had to guest as the Duke as well doing all their own roles and as it was exam time 3 of the older girls could not do the dress rehearsal (with an audience) so the understudies were very busy as well. A hectic time was had by all!

We had a very successful audition for our Southsea production in May. We seem to be going from strength to strength there and it will be exciting to be part of the King's Theatre 100 years anniversary. The number of dancers  auditioning there has doubled from our 1st visit and the standard was very high with a record number of boys auditioning (I think we accepted 17!). There have been a couple of amusing misunderstandings of titles in the last week, some girls were a bit distressed at the thought of doing the “Drain Pipes” dance (Reed Pipes) in The Nutcracker, and one boy was looking forward to the “Brothel” dance (Betrothal) in Coppelia.

At the certificate ceremony in Yeovil commendations went to the Little Jewels/Monsters group for their consistency, Emma Green (guest) for her good technique and responsible attitude, Georgia Madsen (Jewel/Relative) who coped well with her struggle with point work and improved considerably and to Caroline Rees and Nicola Licence for rising to the challenge of doing leading roles. The Senior Prize went to Abigail Matthews (Jewel/Relative) for her attack and performance quality (she was a Doll in our very first EYB production in 1998!). The Junior Prize went to Francesca Scott (Little Jewel/Monster) for her good feet and technique but most of all for her constant smile.

I have had messages from- Hattie Archer who has been accepted for the R B, NBT, Cecchetti and Hammond Senior Associates,NYB and got 90% for her grade 7(phew!). Amber Thompson who will be performing at the Edinburgh Festival with the Nottingham Youth Dance. Cora Vanaman who has been performing in “Anything Goes” with the Mansfield Operatic Society, as “Annie” at the Bonnington Theatre and will be in Panto at the Palace Theatre Mansfield. Lowri Shone who has been accepted into Tring for September. Ailsa MacCalman has a place with the JAs with National Youth Ballet. Finally Oliver Cooper has a place with the London Junior Ballet and has been appearing as Oberon in his school production of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”.

I went to see The WHO last night and will be seeing Lou Reed at the weekend (there goes that whooshing sound again - ask your parents!). Keep your news coming in and as always, keep working hard.

Dominic.

May 2007

Hi Again

Well who would have believed the weather in the last month? It’s been like summer down in Worthing for the last month, which is very nice except when there are a 110 of us in a gym that is like a green house! I suppose it’s better than been cold and wet. Worthing was one of our more extreme venues - there was not enough space back stage to fit in all the cast so the theatre had to convert the front of house bar into a changing area for 40 of the company. The only problem with this was there was no way to get the dancers back stage without taking them outside! Everything had to be timed exactly so they didn’t bump into the audience on the way in or out. I was very thankful to the good weather at that point. It did rain during the dress rehearsal, it must have been a strange site seeing me lead 40 dancers with plastic bags on their feet to protect their point shoes out on the street and then into the dock doors!  Then there was an appendicitis and a broken toe (UNDERSTUDY!!!), a major traffic jam which meant 1/3 of the cast were worried that they would make curtain up on the second show - never a dull moment in EYB! Yet, even with all of the above, it was one of the most rewarding projects we have done. What the teachers and principals were especially pleased with was the attentiveness and good behaviour of the students. In contrast to the company in Preston where the technical standard was higher to start with(and there were some excellent individual students) we all felt that the Worthing company achieved more as a group mainly because they listened rather than talked. A simple difference but what a big one.

Next year is beginning to shape up, we hope to have all the venues settled next week but at the moment Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Norwich, Bromley, Billingham and York are pretty much settled, full details should be on the web site by the end of the month and it is pretty much certain that “Giselle” is going to be our new production next year to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

We will be welcoming Oliver back into our ranks for the Yeovil project, he has just had a minor operation on his knee so I will get him to tell you all the gory details in a later letter!

At the certificate ceremony commendations went to The Little Friends/Prayer group for hard work and improved point work, the Chinese Dolls for co-ordination, the Betrothal boys for stretching their feet, Sophie Abaza (Lead Villager), Vanessa Cox (Leading Morning Hour), Peter Firth (Soldier Doll/Betrothal), Ben Cooper (Combat/Czardas) for their performance quality and Eleanor Watson (Prayer/Little Friend) for her musicality. The Junior Prize Prize went to Ellie Warner (Villager) for outstanding performance quality  from the 1st day of rehearsal. The Senior Prize went to Raffaella Covino (Coppelia Doll) for her excellent interpretation of the roll. Two Extra Prizes went to the Senior Boys Joshua  Glavin and Robert Howse for their constant hard work and commitment.

I have had messages from Grace Horne to say she has been accepted into the Royal Ballet School at White Lodge, the ever busy Ellie Waite who has been accepted into the Wells Ballet summer school in London and the RB senior associates in Birmingham, Joshua Hutchings who is enjoying his second year at Tring, he also performed with ENB in the Nutcracker and will be joining them again for Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall, Kaleb Hindley has been accepted into the Billy Eliot school and Jordon Brown who has been very busy appearing as Oliver in his school production of the musical, the 3 Musketeers with his local Am/Dram company the Showtimers and performing with SYB. Congratulations to all. To anyone who lives in the Bury St. Edmunds area, the Anglian Ballet will be premiering my latest work with them on June 22nd at the Quay Theatre Sudbury.

All for now.

Keep working hard.

DOMINIC

March 2007

Hi Again

So we are well underway into 2007 and the 1st project over. The usual manic race to get everything together for a new production and the relief that it all happened to plan with lots of help from all involved. Our creative team really came up trumps and the new sets and costumes were a joy to behold. It is a nice feeling knowing that all our productions are now our own and have a distinctive EYB look. The cast in Preston was the largest we have had and technically one of the strongest, unfortunately one of the worst for talking as well. It was very frustrating wasting time quieting everyone down when we were altogether and having to read the riot act in the theatre. Fortunately the message finally got through and we were rewarded with some very strong performances, especially on the the last night.

There were quite a few familiar faces in the cast (and in the audience!) and it is very gratifying to see the development of the students (and scary how quickly you all grow up) case in point being Aimee Williamson who was a little cryonite in Liverpool 4 years ago is now one of the most accomplished Dawn solos we have had. I’ve also heard that Kevin Emerton who was with us 3 years ago in Preston and went to the Royal Ballet Upper School later that year has been accepted in to the Royal Ballet Company in London and will start at the end of this academic year! Must be something in the water up there.  We had the most amazing audience for the dress rehearsal, I’ve never seen so many young people (over 400) sit so quietly and engrossed and then give such a loud and positive reaction at the end. This gave a nice boost to the show, especially for Matthew as it was his debut in the roll of Franz and for our latest addition to our team, Trevor Wood, who has kept us all amused in the roll of Dr.Coppelius!

The principals have been busy these past months, Julianne and Matthew finished the Strauss tour in time to join us for the performances in Preston, Emma will be joining ENB for their in the round production of Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall, Oliver is working hard in France (he made a flying visit to us in Preston for a day) and we hope to see Maria again this year while Emma is busy with ENB. Apologies to all who were looking forward to us going to Sheffield, the theatre didn’t get it together in time but we hope to get there in 2008.

At the certificate ceremony commendations went to all the Boys for their serious approach to their work, the Betrothal/Dolls group for their polish,energy and musicality, the Little Friends group for their point work, Aimee Williamson (Dawn solo) and Alice Alcock (Coppelia Doll) for their strong technique, Ellie Waite (Friends/Prayer) for he professionalism, Amy Stringman, Katherine Hamilton and Hannah Lloyd-Calam for their smiles, Danielle Foster (Work/Czardas) for her head movements and style and Elizabeth Grimshaw (Lead Morning hour/Czardas) for her quality.

The Junior prize went to the outstanding Helena Tranter (Scottish Doll/Betrothal) so much polish in one so young and always smiling. The Senior prize went to Joshua Moss (Villager/Betrothal/Combat) for consistent hard work and performance quality.

As it has been a long break between letters I have lots of messages. Charlie Day achieved Distinction in his grade 2 exam (his 1st ever ballet exam), Emily Whiting achieved Distinction in her grade 1 exam (top mark in her school), Oliva-Grace Beale achieved Distinction in her grade 5 exam and has been performing in Jack and the Beanstalk at the King’s Theatre Southsea,  Jasmine and Melissa Barnes have both been offered places at Cambridge to study classics (they have promised to keep up their dancing as well), Daisy Mackey and Charles Bink have both been offered places at Arts Ed Tring, Josie Lee achieved Distinction in her grade 8 RAD been in Panto at the Marlowe Theatre Canterbury and has been offered a place at the Millennium dance College, Ellie Waite will be playing the tile role in “Annie” in Chester later this year  and finally both Genevieve Heron and Georgia Bould have been offered places at the Royal Ballet School. Congratulations to all!

Keep working hard.     

Dominic